‘We know it can be done’: Tenants protest after Vancouver supportive housing elevator broken for months

Click to play video: 'Portland Hotel residents demand elevator fix'
Portland Hotel residents demand elevator fix
Residents of an supportive housing complex on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have been living with a broken elevator for months. Today, they took their concerns to the streets, demanding answers from the Portland Hotel Society. As Kristen Robinson reports, their concerns were heard, but they could still be without an elevator for another two months – Feb 6, 2023

Tenants at the Portland Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside say the elevator has been broken for almost five months and they have had enough.

They protested about the situation inside the supportive housing hotel on Monday, demanding better living conditions.

The group marched to PHS Community Services Society at 9 East Hastings from their building at 20 West Hastings.

“Just start listening to us,” resident Mark Tobiasson said.

The Portland Hotel, which is just over 20 years old, is operated by PHS Community Services Society, with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC Housing as community partners.

“I’m not stupid,” he said. “I may be a drug addict but I’m not stupid. And I don’t like to be treated as a stupid person.”

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B.C.’s Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon, said the government knows there is “an issue” at that hotel, which it identified late last year.

“In fact, many people that have mobility issues have been offered other places to stay, some chose to take those options, a couple of people decided they didn’t want to take other options,” Kahlon said.

Kahlon said supply chain issues have slowed the repairs.

“The decision was made to fix the whole entire shaft and that’s when the parts were delayed a lot longer than we wanted them to be.”

Tenant Lisa Miller, who uses a walker to get around, said she often sleeps in the lobby of the hotel.

“I can walk down but I have to get the staff to help me with my walker to get down,” she said.

“It makes me feel terrible, it makes me feel like I’m not worth anything to them. I’m scared to re-injure myself.”

“We know it can be done,” Miller said. “But they don’t want to. Just spend the money.”

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Click to play video: 'Elevator in Vancouver SRO has been broken for months'
Elevator in Vancouver SRO has been broken for months

The PHS Community Services Society did not respond to Global News’s Jan. 21 inquiry about the broken elevator.

On Monday, CEO Michael Vonn told Global News that they were not able to provide an interview.

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